tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC December 12, 2011 1:00pm-2:00pm EST
there is argument going on inside iraqi politician now regarding this size, it's 15,000. i wonder if you discussed with the prime minister to reduce the number of the diplomats? thank you. >> translator: we have raised the issue of the iraqi need for weapons. we have a lot of american weapons. and it requires trainers. we received promises for cooperation from his excellency, the president, for some weapons that iraq is asking for, especially those related to its protection of its air space. and we hope that the congress will approve another group of f-16 airplanes in iraq because our air force was destroyed
completely during the wars that iraq entered into. this is not all. we also need technical equipment related to the security field. these are issues that are being discussed by the concerned people in both countries between the ministries of defense and interior with their counterparts in the united states. and we received promises and facilitations. and we agreed on how to make this relationship continuous in the security field because both of us need each other and need cooperation, especially in chasing al qaeda, which we started and was not defeated except in iraq. and we hope to cooperate with all those who feel the dangers of this organization to cooperate with us as well. >> our goal is a sovereign iraq that can protect its borders, protect its air space, protect its people.
and our security cooperation with other countries, i think, is a model for our security cooperation with iraq. we don't want to great big footprints inside of iraq. and i think that's demonstrated by what will happen at the end of this month, which is, we're getting our troops out. but we will have a very active relationship, military to military, that will hopefully enhance iraqi capabilities and will assure that we've got a strong partner in the region that is going to be effective. with respect to the embassy, the actual size of our embassy with respect to diplomats is going to be comparable to other countries that we think are important around the world. there are still some special
security needs inside of iraq that make the overall number larger. and we understand some questions have been raised inside of iraq about that. look, we're only a few years removed from an active war inside of iraq. i think it's fair to say that there are still some groups, although they're greatly weakened, that might be tempted to target u.s. diplomats or civilians who are working to improve the performance of the power sector inside of iraq or are working to help train agricultural specialists inside of iraq. and as president of the united states, i want to make sure that anybody who's out in iraq trying to help the iraqi people is protected. now, as this transition
proceeds, it may turn out that the security needs for our diplomats and for our civilians gradually reduces itself, partly because iraq continues to make additional progress. but i think the iraqi people can understand that as president of the united states, if i'm putting civilians in the field in order to help the iraqi people build their economy and improve their productivity, i want to make sure they come home, because they are not soldiers. so that makes the numbers larger than they otherwise would be. but the overall mission that they're carrying out is comparable to the missions that are taking place in other countries that are big, that are important and that are friends of ours. okay? thank you very much, everybody. >> good day, i'm andrea mitchell
live in new york today. the president and iraq's prime minister, nuri al maliki have just wrapped up a joint news conference charting next steps as the final u.s. combat troops prepare to leave iraq after nine years of war. about 16,000 u.s. personnel will remain, even more than that. and as the troops are preparing to leave a dramatically changed landscape. 12 miles north of baghdad, concrete walls line empty streets where 45,000 u.s. troops once lived and work. now it is essentially abandoned with only a handful of soldiers left. michael joins me now. we're hearing from john mccain criticism of both president obama and prime minister maliki today, that they have both failed with this withdrawal of troops, the failure to extend the american involvement. why should americans stay longer in iraq than absolutely
necessary? is the president wrong that this is the time to come home? >> well, i think there's some justified criticism that the last stages of this situation were mishandled. the agreement between iraq and the united states that would have had a slightly larger american presence there for a slightly longer amount of time failed in october. and i think that leaves our diplomats and contractors vulnerable. it makes us less able to effect what happens in iraqi democracy, undermines our ability to isolate iran in the long term. all that said, if you step back from this -- i don't think americans are going to be upset that the united states finished its mission, was more successful than we thought we would be in 2006 and 2007 when things looked very, very dire. and i think the president will probably, at least in the short run, benefit from this.
>> michael, at the same time, the president has promised that iraq is up to this transition. look, we've lost almost 4,500 american troops, plus more than 31,000 americans who have been injured, casualties in this war, nine long years, untold trillions of dollars have been involved. at this point isn't it fair to say that iraq is up to this transition? >> if you pull back the lens a little bit, i think the military and others can take great pride in the fact that in 2006-2007, it looked like this was another vietnam, that america was going to be humiliated, at the center of its influence and interests in the middle east and that that could have had a terrible effect on america's standing in the world. because of the surge, because of the troops, because of people in
iraq that rose to the moment, you had the negotiations of the status of force agreement. i don't think it's disastrous. the question was whether you have 10,000 or 15,000 troops in iraq for maybe a few years more in order to maintain the stability, which remains important to american interests. but that hasn't happened. and it is now in the hands of the iraqi people. that was eventually going to happen. it's just a matter of -- a question about the timing. >> you've also, of course, been writing about the campaign. you've been writing about newt gingrich. you know him well. you've watched him over the years. you had a column about newt gingrich's quote, lack of discipline. let me play a little bit about what newt gingrich said about the palestinians and ask you about it on the other side. >> there was no palestine as a state. it's part of the ottoman empire. i think we've had an invented
palestinian people who are in fact arabs and were historically part of the arab community and they had a chance to go many places and for a variety of political reasons, we have sustained this war against israel now since the 1940s. >> people on both sides of this argument, on both sides of the united states and israel have said that in this comment, newt gingrich was moving to the right of benjamin netanyahu because this is not the israeli position nor the u.s. position under george bush or bill clinton, under barack obama. at the same time, if you want to be historically accurate, jordan was invented out of the ottoman empire, iraq was invented out of the ottoman empire. is this a case where -- >> the way many countries in africa and in the middle east were created. it's not unusual and it's not piercing historical insight.
>> what does it tell us about newt gingrich, though? what does it tell us about his sensibility, his intellect? he's now the republican frontrunner? >> it illustrates a problem about gingrich which is, does anyone really think that he sat down with a series of policy advisers and hashed through this issue and had a kind of serious process that results in this view? no, he popped off. he's filled with opinions. he's overflowing with opinions. he also said he would big john bolton as his secretary of state. was that the result of some deliberative process? clearly it wasn't. this, i think, is what has a lot of the republican establishment very afraid of the possibility of a gingrich candidacy. he doesn't seem to bring that kind of discipline to his messages. he has no history of it in his career. he says what's on his mind at any given moment instead of sticking to the script.
that can be a real danger in presidential politics. >> was this a pander to the jewish vote down the road but more immediately to the evangelical vote in iowa? >> there could be some of that. but i'm not even sure how calculating gingrich is on some of this. i think that's probably his historical view. he probably read an article three years ago that dealt with this issue and it comes out in a situation like this. there's no filter on his part. i think that probably is more of what's happening in this case than some kind of very cynical political mover. >> michael gerson, exploring newt gingrich's mind, an interesting place to be. good to see you. a high-voltage battle is being waged on capitol hill over regulating our nuclear power plants. the supreme court has agreed to rule on arizona's controversial illegal immigration laws.
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the united states has 104 nuclear reactors in 32 states all regulated by one agency in washington that is having its own meltdown. the members have written to the white house claiming that their chairman is unfit to lead the agency and could potentially put the nation's safety at risk. on wednesday, a house panel will be investigating the chairman's leadership. joining us now, congressman
darrell issa from california. and also congressman ed markey, democrat of massachusetts. welcome, both. first to you, chairman issa, you have raised this issue. you're going to be chairing this hearing. what is going on with this agency and who's in charge of our nuclear safety right now? >> that's a great question, andrea. obviously this controversy did not cause this hearing to be held. we'd scheduled the hearing and then a combination of letters to the white house and now a letter directly to me calling in question chairman jasco's ability to lead this commission has elevated it to be that issue. we plan on having a second panel to further evaluate that. but the question is the most important one. if the two democrats on the commission appointed by president obama plus two republican, one reappointed by president obama, cannot find any basis to continue working with this chairman, that's an
independent agency telling us it's in crisis. >> congressman markey, i know that chairman jasco at one point worked for you and for harry reid. he's been at this agency for years. he's an experienced regulator. what is the dispute? you're on the complete opposite side of it. >> thank you. yes, chairman jasco is a nuclear physicist. what he has decided, after receiving recommendations from the nuclear regulatory commission staff and an independent analysis is that, one, there should be tougher safety standards to protect against hydrogen explosions such as those that occurred at fukushima. there needs to be back-up diesel
generating capacity in the event that a nuclear power plant loses its electricity and the core of the plant starts to melt down, that these nuclear power plants need better fireproofing to protect against an accident. there are four commissioners who do not want to do this. and they are consistent with the tradition of this agency being a lap dog and not a watchdog for nuclear safety for the american public. chairman jasco as a nuclear physicist is saying, we need to build in the safety measures to protect the american public. >> the congress has said nothing about this. what do you want to hear from the white house on this? >> i believe that the president has named the best chairman of the nuclear regulatory commission in its history in terms of his commitment to nuclear safety.
i know the nuclear industry thinks its too expensive to build in these safety recommendations. i know that four of the commissioners are saying, it's too expensive to build in additional safety protections for the american public. but i would like the president to stand up and just say that he believes the safety of the american people is more important than any extra money the nuclear industry has to spend in order to make these plants safe. >> chairman issa, what about the issue of nuclear safety? we've seen what happened in japan, the absolute disaster after the tsunami and how the country was affected. >> andrea, i'm a congressman from california, i know after every earthquake we figure out ways we should improve building construction in california. you obviously learn from these. but at the same time, let's not live up to rahm emanuel's famous expression of "never let a crisis go to waste."
jasco is not, in fact, quote, a scientist. what he is is much more than that. he is a political operative that worked for congressman markey. he worked for leader reid, senator reid. this is someone who has the political background and ideology, which is fine, but now faced with two democrats appointed by president obama. ed markey is calling this independent agency and two people recently appointed by this president as lap dogs to an industry rather than recognize that we need to look at where this conflict really comes from, why they can't resolve it and an agency that is historically elevated safety in america every year and it's been important to our industry. and most importantly, let's not prejudge the science. we're going to have a second panel, including a scientist from the agency. we're going to have a representative from the white house if they respond. we're not going to prejudge anything except we have an
extraordinary crisis among commissioners. three out of the four that are objecting to jasco are, in fact, people who were apointed or reappointed by this president. this should be essentially all about finding out why this chairman cannot bring together even one of the four commissioners to see that he has some leadership quality. this is extraordinary. we want to deal with it as government oversight and reform, not under any ideology. we will look at the science. i have a nuclear power plant with two reactors in my district. right on the coast. we very much want to make sure that we learn from japan, we learn from anything to make these facilities greater. but i think it's much clearer that when ed markey said that he decided that that begs the real question, if he decided, then is he chairman with one out of five votes or is he dictator and that's why the other four are objecting to his leadership
style. >> i think we obviously have to leave it there and follow it and follow your hearings on wednesday. chairman issa, congressman markey, thank you for joining us. sure isn't reassuring to the public to have the regulatory commission to be this divided. to be continued. mitt romney goes after newt gingrich on freddie mac. but newt fires right back. have a question you want me to answer? join me today and every monday for a live web chat between 2:15 and 2:45. that's today, 2:15 eastern. this is "andrea mitchell reports," only on msnbc. time for the "your business" entrepreneur of the week. amy burnett opened the next step dance studio in new jersey with children's dance classes. she monetized by renting space, added adult classes, a performance summer camp and partnering with another group on performances of the "nutcracker."
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and kept on hitting himself. >> kept on going, kept on smiling. there was one moment where he lost his cool a little bit with michele bachmann, pushed back a little bit hard. that was the one time you saw sort of old newt. but absolutely, he is continuing his momentum streak. he had real energy at his event in iowa this weekend. i was there. mitt romney did not have comparable energy. mitt romney has a problem on his hands. >> when we talk about mitt romney, new hampshire, iowa is a stretch for him. we knew that this was something that was not in the cards for him. depends on how he places in new hampshire. that's a must-win for him. we always that florida was going to be the firewall, assuming that newt gingrich would do well in south carolina. >> that's looking very different right now. you're also seeing in florida newt gingrich's numbers against president obama, while they're a little worse than mitt romney's, they're not so dramatically worse that it's really so easy for mitt romney to make the electability argument and say, you ought to be with me instead of this guy. in new hampshire, the other
point i would make, mitt romney has to win. but as we saw with obama and clinton in 2008, when obama won iowa, new hampshire got incredibly close. there's a problem there. >> maggie, thank you very much. is gingrich conservative enough for the tea party? president obama says he can take on whomever the republicans nominate. lawrence o'donnell will be right here next on "andrea mitchell reports." with the capital one venture card we get double miles on every purchase.
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some split between medvedev and putin? >> reporter: well, an interesting thing happened. he calls for the investigation on his facebook page which received more than 11,000 comments, negative comments, as a result. but just later on today, there was an announcement from prime minister vladimir putin's spokesperson that actually, that's fine, they can go ahead with this investigation. they aren't going to turn up anything and it's not going to change the results of the election. that's going to leave a lot of people in this country pretty dissatisfied, those people out in the streets in their tens of thousands over the weekend. dran? >> stephanie gosk on duty in moscow, fascinating story unfolding there. back here at home, fueled by the support of conservatives and the tea party, newt gingrich has opened up double-digit leads in florida and south carolina. mark mekler joins me now.
if you had to find a true tea party person on that stage saturday night it was clearly michele bachmann. >> i think that's true. >> yet at the same time, newt gingrich is the frontrunner. are you comfortable with newt gingrich as the potential nominee? >> well, first of all, i'm speaking for the movement at large and not just for myself. i think it's divided. i think you see that in the numbers. there are no groundswell of support for any individual candidate. people are still looking. >> this was another exchange just today following up on the debate. this was mitt romney taking on newt gingrich about his $1.6 million that we know of from freddie mac. >> he was in the business of connecting folks with government. he was on "k" street. this is a connection with government kind of business. very different than the private sector. >> if governor romney would like to recollect all the money he's
caused in bankruptcy, i'll be happy to give back the money -- >> he's a very good debater and a koupt puncher. we're saying that in this campaign, mark. >> i think his criticisms of newt in regard to fannie mae and freddie mac really hit the mark. right now, people are concerned about that. >> ron paul made that point, for sure. >> i think a lot of folks have made that point. the history is there. and i think newt is going to have a hard time explaining that away. >> are you comfortable with mitt romney? he certainly has a record that is as divided from the tea party as any of these other candidates? >> i don't think we're generally comfortable with any of them. we're not looking for the ideal candidate. we're looking for somebody to do the best job of representing tea party values. they're all talking tea party values. that's the part that excites us. from bachmann to romney to newt, they're all talking about it. >> could you support romney? >> on a personal level, frankly, ultimately in the end, we will support anybody who's o opposing
president obama. but it remains for the voters to say. >> what about ron paul? he has very strong views. >> bachmann has been just as consistent, though a shorter career. but ron paul differs from many tea party conservatives in his foreign policy initiatives, in the way he views the world. i think he's a lot more isolationist than tea partiers like. in 2007, rudy giuliani was ahead in the polls. anything can happen from here until the primaries. >> as a tea party leader, what about federal spending? which of these republican candidates has really been specific enough and credible enough on the whole subject of the debt? >> i think they're all talking about the right things. history shows us we should doubt all of them at their word. it's going to take the tea party's pressure all the way up through the election and beyond
in order to make sure they live up to their promises. >> mark, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> good to be with you. and almost nine years ago, veteran journalist ted koppel joined the third infantry division acrocrossing iraq and baghdad. he takes us back to iraq as the u.s. military completes its withdrawal. but is america really leaving? >> i realize you can't go into any detail. but i would assume there's a healthy movement here -- i would assume that jasoc may be active in this area. you have fbi here. you've got dea here. can you give me sort after a menu of who all falls under your control? >> you're doing pretty well were i authorized to talk about half of this stuff. >> and you can watch ted
koppel's debut report tonight on "rock center" at 10:00 eastern right here on nbc. the president fired back at his republican critics on sunday saying he is ready for whoever emerges from the republican race. joining me now, lawrence o'donnell. you have the last word with us. thank you very much. supporters of the president were surprised that he wasn't ready with a response to questions -- predictable questions, if you will, understandable tough but predictable questions about his poor poll numbers, his lack of popularity and the republican race. >> you know, i thought the answers made sense to me. he's saying, look, he understands why americans are dissatisfied with what we are economically, especially. and that's going to be reflected in presidential poll numbers because it always has been reflected in presidential poll numbers. so i'm not sure what else he was supposed to say about that. >> did he seem not passionate enough, not engaged enough -- >> i'm the wrong person to ask. i do not care --
>> you're not only smart politically but you're a producer. >> i don't care about passion in politics. i think it is the worst way to grade the performance of politicians, especially politicians who are actually active in government. for the challengers out there who are running for office and don't have governmental responsibilities, maybe it's all about passion. but he is an executive trying to run the most difficult executive exercise that exists in the world. >> lawrence, we're going to go to arlington national cemetery for a wreath-laying. what you're seeing now is president obama and prime minister nuri al maliki taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknowns. let's listen.
>> president obama, iraq's prime minister, nuri al maliki, at arlington national cemetery, a symbolic and solemn wreath-laying, signifying the end of nine years of war in iraq. nearly 4,500 men and women, american men and women, killed. untold numbers of iraqis dead. more than 31,000 americans wounded. lawrence, the nation has waited
a long time for this moment and it is only symbolic and we still have americans there and we will have, as ted koppel is reporting tonight on "rock center" nearly 17,000 americans who are intelligence and contractors, government officials, non-government officials, but at that enormous embassy, the largest embassy in the world. it isn't over. >> it seems like part of what we're seeing here is an attempt to put a face of organization and deliberation on the end of the iraq war, even if it was out of control and lost during the middle years of it. this president seems determined to deliver imagery of an organized exit. we're going to know after the exit just how real that is. >> isn't exactly a mission accomplished sign. we are involved in a campaign. but there are a lot of pitfalls and the president didn't want to
acknowledge that today, but iran is one of them and what's happening in syria is another. and iraq has many, many challenges. >> i think he's in the position of, in effect, trying to sell to the world and the region and convince the world and the region that this exit is going to work. so for him to engage in the hypotheticals of "what if," doesn't make any sense, especially at this stage. surely he's in meetings that are filled with the "what ifs." and surely he has worries about those and contingency notions about what they're going to have to do if some of the worst "what ifs" occur. >> lawrence o'donnell, great to see you. thank you very much for sharing this time with us. we want to remind you "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" airs at 10:00 eastern right here on msnbc. we'll be right back. quotes, any way you want. fully customize it for your trading process -- from thought to trade, on every screen. and all in real time. which makes it just like having your own trading floor, right at your fingertips.
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the presidential election? plus, the home improvement chain lowe's gives in to a conservative christian group and pulls its ads from a show profiling american muslim families in michigan. we'll have the latest opt backlash and lowe's lukewarm apology. the u.s. is drowning in debt, in excess of $15 trillion and there is little sign of any coordinated bipartisan fix. what is the resolution and how can you be part of it? a national fiscal accountability group has released its new quiz to help americans understand what's going on. with me, david walker. and we're laughing because i just got the quiz and i started taking it and discovered that even though i think i know this stuff pretty well and have lived it, breathed it and covered federal budget deficits going back to david stockman, i'm getting stuff wrong. it's talk about what we don't know. what are the most important things that we don't know, we as
a people, about where the money comes from and where it goes? >> well, there's a lot of misinformation and disinformation out there about the true financial condition of the country. the fiscal i.q. quiz, which you can access at fiscaliq.net. ten of them are opinion-based, they'll test your wisdom. and we've already had thousands of people have over -- from all 50 states and 45 countries fill it out just in 2 1/2 business days alone. and it's really -- >> where do they find it online? >> fiscaliq.net. >> one question, true or false, effectively addressing our structural federal deficits will require both reductions in future projected spending and increased revenues. you'll get a different answer if you're talking to republicans, most republicans on the hill, and democrats. >> here's the key, what do we hear from americans?
not only are people going to be able to fill this out themselves but we're doing a statistically valid representative sample of registered voters. we'll have the results of that by december 20th. we'll know what americans think. the truth is americans are ahead of elected officials. they know a lot more about this than their elected officials realize. >> there are a lot of skquestio about social security and the social security trust fund. does it add to larger deficits? >> here's the key. the deficits are calculated on a cash flow basis. and social security has been negative cash flow since 2010 irrespective of the trust fund. a lot of the people don't understand social security, whether or not they're paying for their medicare benefits, whether or not we have above-average levels of taxation in this country. >> just to cheat a little bit, one of the answers is that we are paying below tax levels, the taxation levels than other countries.
>> the average tax level of the united states is below average for an industrialized nation. that doesn't mean that it should go up a lot more. it's just a fact. a fact. people have to understand what the facts are to be able to deal with disinformation and misinformation that's thrown at us every day. >> quick question. payroll tax extension. if we extend the payroll tax, does it undercut social security. >> well, allegedly what they are going to do is they are going to replace that with general revenue funds which means we are going to be borrowing more from the chinaies and japanese and opec nations and in order to replace it, it obviously hurts the deficit and may or may not hurt social security whether or not they replace the funds. >> david walker, you have stumped me and -- a lot of other people. >> you do quite well. you are not done yet. >> stay behind for extra credit. >> i will. >> what political story will be making headlines in the next half hour. that's up next. when you have tough pain, do you want fast relief?
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which political story making headlines in the next 24 hours. we are going to, i think, see a lot more of newt versus mitt romney. mitt romney just completed a news availability up there in new hampshire. and what are you seeing as you look at the way they are going at each other since -- since the saturday debate? >> right. so what we are going to be seeing, we are seeing a lot more mitt romney, after he's staying away from the press for a long, long time. with newt gingrich being in the lead in south carolina and in florida, thanks to we know this thanks to the nbc news maris poll. the two of them are going at it. romney went after newt gingrich saying that he should give back the $1.16 million that he made from fannie and freddie being a historian. newt gingrich fired back saying that romney should give back all
of the money he made, quote, bankrupting companies when he was at bank capital. so we are going to be talking about these two fellows the next 24 hours, next 48 hours, and next month. >> and in fact, i would say months because mitt romney has just told politico he believes the race will go all the way to california on june 5. so he see -- >> he should hope go a long -- he should hope so given that if -- he's wrong about that, newt gingrich -- means gingrich wrapped it up. to be continued. thanks so much for joining us today. that does it for us. for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." i will see you online for website in 15 minutes. tamron hall has a look at what's next on "news nation." >> our next hour, more reaction to the supreme court's decision to hear arguments on arizona's controversial immigration law and with the supreme court already agreeing to hear the fight over the president's health care law, how will this all play a role in the presidential election? plus, not suffering in silence. a woman who was sexually
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developing right now on "news nation," reign supreme. immigration law will rest in the supreme court. justices have agreed to weigh in on the politically volatile case, this as the court also agreed to rule on the president's health care law and redistricting in texas. how it all could affect the race for president. more money, more problems. mitt romney catching heat for the $10,000 bet comment even from his wife. >> anne came up and gave me a kiss and said i was great. and she said a lot of things you do well. betting isn't one